21 Aug 2012

Other members of punk band now sought

9:06 am on 21 August 2012

Police in Russia are searching for more members of Pussy Riot, signalling further pressure on the punk rock group despite an international outcry over prison terms for three of its members.

The three women were convicted on Friday of hooliganism motivated by religious hatred over their performance in a cathedral in Moscow on 21 February against Vladimir Putin who was re-elected as president two weeks later. They were sentenced to two years in prison.

Two others who took part are still at large. The group has said it plans further demonstrations against the president.

Police have not named the new suspects, nor said how many are being sought.

Last week seven unidentified Pussy Riot members in balaclavas met Western journalists and said the trial had only made them more determined.

The three sentenced on Friday said they did not know the names of the others, because they had an anonymity rule and used nicknames for each other.

Critics of the president have condemned the court proceedings as part of a clampdown on a protest movement and reminiscent of trials of dissidents in the Soviet era.

The United States and the European Union have called the sentences disproportionate.